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[CAIRO] Egypt is creating a 'science and technology city' as part of its efforts to promote science communication and to increase public understanding and appreciation of the subject.

The 'city', whose motto is 'science for all', is in fact a 146,000 square metre complex being built in 6th of October City, close to the pyramids of Giza and 30 minutes from the centre of Cairo.

Focusing both on basic sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology and on applied technologies including biotechnology and space technology, the centre will use interactive museum exhibits to engage and educate the public.

According to Adel Abbas, a member of the project's scientific committee, the centre will not only promote science in Egypt but will also engage organisations in the wider Arab world with the hope of establishing an Arab network for science awareness.

Ali Hebash, the former president of Egypt's Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) who is leading the project's scientific committee, says the centre will also produce and distribute science books, pamphlets, video tapes and television programmes, as well as CDs and computer programmes about science.

According to Hebash, the centre will hold exhibitions targeting the business community in the hopes of fostering a close collaboration between industry and research and development institutions. The centre will also seek to strengthen the science communication industry with conferences, symposia, workshops and training courses on science journalism and communication. 

The Egyptian government provided US$7 million to cover the project's initial phase. According to Fawzi Elrefaie, ASRT's current president, the remaining US$40 million needed to complete the complex will be raised through public-private partnerships.

Construction of the science city is already underway and it is due to open at the end of 2005, according to an announcement made by Amr Salama, minister of scientific research, during the youth science forum held in Cairo last month.